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How to Become a Notary: Requirements, Costs & More

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There are different ways to secure a side income if you live paycheck to paycheck.

Some of these opportunities can also secure your expenses if your company has recently let you go or you’re between jobs. 

So, if you’re wondering how to become a notary, you’re not alone. Many people don’t know how to secure this gig or understand its costs.

Luckily, we’ll guide you by answering all the questions related to this profession. 

An Overview of Notary: A Primer

A notary public is a public officer who serves legal documents in the United States.

He or she acts as a county clerk or impartial witness to the serving and receiving of these documents and confirms their authenticity. 

A notary primer is a legal book that contains all the legal information regarding notary laws and how to perform this job successfully. 

Notaries public can witness and sign oaths, real estate papers, and lending papers. They can verify birth and death certificates and marriage, office, and superior court records.

They ensure that people signing legal documents understand what they’re receiving. 

The primer includes all the qualifications, requirements, and notary supplies you need to become a notary public. It includes the notarial laws and the proper ways to identify signers.

The book also lists all the official bond and seal requirements, how to authenticate signatures, and actions considered misconduct when working as a notary. 

Notaries act as public servants during notarizations, confirming the authenticity of legal documents and signatures. In legal matters, a notary public acts as a neutral third-party witness who carry stamps that verify legal documents. 

How Much Do Notaries Make?

The demand for notary services had increased since 2020 when most people in the US refinanced their properties to get lower interest rates. During this period, many people offered notarization services.

They would verify the identity of the person receiving the legal documents and then verify their signatures. 

About 43% of self-employed notaries make $500 a month, while 30% make more than $1000, making this a great second job.

Over 60% of full-time notaries make over $4000 a month, while 16% can make more than $7500. More than 42% of notaries acknowledged that they started making money within one year after becoming notary public agents. 

The money you can make as a notary depends on your location. States specify the maximum amount that notaries can charge for their services. 

The type of notarization services you provide will also affect how much money you make.

For example, notaries for loan signing services charge less than those who work for real estate service providers. You can charge more money if you work for an escrow service, real estate agents, and lenders. 

Senior couple at notary office

What You’ll Need to Become a Notary and Associated Costs

Becoming a notary is an easy but detailed process. Yet, it can be a life-changing experience offering a great work-life balance, mainly if you invest time and effort to excel at it. 

In general, you should be 18 years old or older. You should pay the state’s fees, complete a course assigned and approved by the Secretary of State, and pass an exam. 

Then, you should pass a background check that certifies that you haven’t committed a felony or crime. There are differences between states, so the requirements differ depending on where you are. 

Educational Course

This isn’t mandatory in all states, but most states require applicants to complete three to six hours of education. You can apply for the course at the Department of State’s Notary Education Program or one of the approved providers. 

Application

There are two ways to become a notary. You can apply at the Secretary of State website or contact a bonding agency, depending on where you live. 

Google your state’s notary application, and fill it in like any other formal application. Then, you should buy the surety bond and pay a filing fee. 

Some people prefer to hire a bonding agency to do all the work on their behalf. The agency will provide the application, pay the fees, write your bond, and supply you with your seal. 

Surety Bond

This is a written agreement that protects others if you make a mistake. The price of this bond differs between states, so it can be as low as $500 or as high as $25,000.

Yet, in most states, it’s usually between $5000 and $10,000. 

You don’t have to pay this amount, but it secures the transactions you perform as a notary. If you make any notary errors, this bond will cover the financial liability. 

Notary Supplies

A notary applicant needs three types of notary-specific supplies to apply for jobs. These are certificates, a notary stamp or seal, and a notary journal. Some agencies offer them as a notary package. 

You use a notary seal to verify signatures and other legal transactions and keep a record of all your notarization work in the journal.

Some states don’t require notaries to have a journal, but it will protect you and the public by providing accurate information. 

Notaries find getting certificates challenging since there are different types of certificates based on the notarization services you wish to provide.

Basic certificates are the easiest to obtain, but you might want to get something more specific to secure more jobs. 

How Much Does it Cost to Become a Notary?

The cost of becoming a notary differs from one state to another. It also varies according to the kind of services you wish to provide in the future. 

Close-up of a notary teaching a junior notary at his office

You’ll usually pay a few hundred dollars to file your application and complete your course. You might also have to pay for a special training course to offer specialized notary services. 

Most notaries must buy several supplies, including a notary stamp, a notary journal, and certificates. Electronic notary products like seals and digital certificates are also available for those who offer remote notarization. 

Is it Hard to Become a Notary?

Becoming a notary is relatively easy and affordable, which is why this uncommon side hustle is gaining popularity. You must take a course in only five states to receive your commission, but you can take it online.

Also, you’ll have to take a test in only seven states, but two of these states allow you to have an open-book test. 

Some first-timers find the filing and application process overwhelming. But, if you have some experience, you can complete the application in 10 to 15 minutes.

Compared to other jobs, this is one of the easiest things to do as there are no educational requirements. 

How Long Does it Take to Become a Notary?

If your state requires training, taking an exam, and passing it, you might take seven to nine weeks before you receive your commission as a notary. 

In other states, you might receive your notary public commission earlier, so you can start working as a notary public once you’ve filed your application. On average, with no training or exams, you can receive your commission in four weeks. 

You’ll receive an email confirming the receipt of your application within an hour. Then, another one within 10 to 12 days, acknowledging that the NNA processed your application and submitted it to the Secretary of State. 

You’ll receive your commission certificate in 10 business days in most states. You might have to spend more time before landing a suitable notary job

How to Become a Notary in Seven Simple Steps

Becoming a notary public is suitable for those without a college education or who want an easy job to secure a decent income. You can become a notary by following these steps. 

1. Meet State Requirements

It’s crucial to state the state’s laws before you consider becoming a notary. In most cases, you can only notarize documents only in the state where you’re registered. 

Some states allow notaries to notarize documents in other countries as well. The law might also allow you to hold two commissions in two states. 

2. Fill In Your Notary Application

Most states require applicants to have their applications typewritten to avoid confusion. You’ll specify if you’re applying for an appointment or reappointment to renew your notary commission if you’ve worked as a notary public before. 

Although all your personal information should be identical to your national ID, there are several options for how you want your name to appear on the application.

Sending a copy of your ID guarantees that everything will be clear, as some names can be confused for nicknames. 

3. Complete Approved Education

If your state requires approved education, you should complete a three to six-hour course before you become eligible for work as a notary.

If you want to become a notary in California, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Oregon, Florida, Ohio, Missouri, North Carolina, Montana, and Nevada, you must attend a class. 

In some states like California, you’ll have to take a course even if you have a previous commission. In Delaware, you’ll only need to take the course if you offer electronic notary services. 

Although some states don’t require official education, some applicants voluntarily apply for notary education. Community colleges and the notary regulating agency in your state will list the available options. 

4. Pass an Exam

Most states don’t require applicants to take tests to become notaries. However, if you wish to become a notary public in Utah, California, Oregon, Colorado, Ohio, Connecticut, Noth Carolina, Hawaii, New York, Louisiana, Nebraska, Maine, or Montana, you’ll have to pass a notary exam. 

The state encourages applicants to take a home test in Wyoming, but it’s not mandatory. In most cases, applicants will take an hour to complete the test. 

5. Pay the Filing Fee

The fee for filing your documents differs between states. It’s usually a few dollars, but the overall cost of becoming a notary can be several hundred dollars. 

This cost includes the cost of approved education, exams, training, background screening, and the surety bond cost. 

6. Complete a Background Check

Most but not all states require a background check if you want to become a notary. This includes tracing your social security number, criminal record history, and motor vehicle records. 

If your state doesn’t require this check, it’s still advisable to get one from an approved vendor like the National Notary Association because getting a job as a loan signing agent will be difficult without one. 

7. Receive Your Commission

Once you’ve completed all these steps, you’ll be eligible to receive your commission. You’re now allowed to look for jobs as a notary, and the government will approve your work. 

Lending vendors, real estate offices, and legal offices offer several job opportunities. You can contact hospitals and living facilities to offer your services as a remote online notary for electronic notarization. 

Close up of female Notary stamping a document

Order notary seal, notary books, and journal to get yourself started. Check online services for nearby gigs, as most people will use an online notary locator to have any legal document verified. 

Reasons to Consider Becoming a Notary

Becoming a notary public opens doors to additional income. You’ll also have a better chance of applying for legal or government jobs or starting your business.

Here are some reasons why you might consider becoming one:

  • Starting this business is easy, as you simply fill in an application and pay a fee. In most cases, you don’t have to take a course, although it might help you secure better jobs in the future. 
  • You can work according to your schedule within four years after receiving your commission. After which, you’ll have to reapply. 
  • You can make more money while adding skills and experience to your resume. 
  • You get to help people by notarizing documents. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does it Take to Become a Notary?

This depends on where you apply to become a notary. It might take four to nine weeks, depending on whether you need to take a course and pass an exam.

You’ll spend more time getting certain certificates if you want to apply for specific notary jobs.

Can a Non-US Citizen Be a Notary Public?

Non-US citizens might apply to become notaries, but some states require that applicants read and write English.

You should be legally present in the country if you’re not a US citizen. You should also pass a background check.

Similar Gigs to Check Out

You can try similar jobs to increase your income. These gigs are also easy to apply for and don’t require specialized education. 

How to Become a Home Inspector

A home inspector inspects a property’s condition before it’s up for sale. You can learn how to become a home inspector in your state by searching the requirements.

In most cases, you should have a high-school diploma, general liability, and errors and omissions insurance. 

How to Become a Freelance Writer

If you have a passion for writing, a keyboard, and an internet connection, you can easily learn how to become a freelance writer.

First, you’ll have to research different types of writing, and then you might have to take a course to understand SEO or various writing skills to build a remarkable portfolio. 

How to Become a Medical Scribe

A medical scribe assists physicians by documenting their findings to help them provide a better service to patients.

You don’t need a medical background for this job, but you can research your state’s requirements to learn how to become a medical scribe.

Wrapping Up

Learning how to become a notary can represent a lucrative side hustle opportunity without complicated qualifications.

There are a few steps to follow if you want to notarize documents, but the requirements differ from one state to another. 

Tell us what you think in the comments, and share this article with a friend if you find it helpful. You might offer a friend an opportunity to make money and build their career.  

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